The region stands to benefit from greater investment in transport infrastructure. Areas with metro mayors are set to receive 50 per cent of the Transforming Cities Fund. Around £250m has already been allocated to the West Midlands Metro extension. To find out what else this would mean for your business, you can download the full report below.
This is not the first time we have heard a Chancellor deliver a budget targeted at solving the UK’s weak productivity. However, there is no denying that there were some welcome announcements for the business community.
Industrial Strategy, R&D and Infrastructure:
Investment in research & development (R&D), transport and the latest technological developments are vital to business and economic growth. The additional investment in announced today will be a positive boost. The weighting of the Transforming Cities Fund towards areas with metro mayors will be welcome news for the West Midlands. We await the Industrial Strategy White Paper, expected on Monday, for more clarity on the Government’s vision and strategy and what it will mean for Greater Birmingham’s businesses.
Alongside the British Chambers of Commerce the GBCC has been vocal about the need for business rates reform. We are pleased that some of our asks have been heard and acted on by the Chancellor, particularly regarding the annual uprating and frequency of revaluations, but there is still more to do. Too many businesses are still being hit by this old fashioned tax and facing bureaucratic, costly processes when they challenge inaccurate bills.
Click here to read our latest briefing paper on business rates.
The announcement confirming the second devolution deal for the West Midlands Combined Authority is an exciting opportunity and a reflection of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street’s lobbying of central Government. We look forward to hearing the detail tomorrow.
Skills & Training:
Skills remain a top issue for businesses and there was some welcome news on investment in fundamentals: maths and commuter science, preparing for TLevels and the creation of a National Retraining Scheme for lifelong learning. However, there was conspicuously little attention payed to the issues currently affecting apprenticeships: figures released last month showed that total apprenticeship starts for May, June and July fell a staggering 61% compared to the same period last year despite the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.
However, there is no escaping the concerns about sluggish growth raised by the Office of Budgetary Responsibility’s forecast. This is the first time that the OBR has predicted GDP growth of below 2% and a sign of the uncertainty facing our economy around the unescapable challenge of Brexit. While we welcome many of the steps outlined above, the UK remains a long way off cracking the fundamental issues holding back productivity.
Other:There are also a number of announcements that local businesses should be aware of: namely the increase in the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage and increase in the diesel supplement in company car tax.